Civil Air Patrol evaluations in JamestownCivil Air Patrol volunteers from across North Dakota landed at Jamestown Regional Airport Saturday for a biennial evaluation from the Air Force, which tested its day-to-day capabilities.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Civil Air Patrol volunteers from across North Dakota landed at Jamestown Regional Airport Saturday for a biennial evaluation from the Air Force, which tested its day-to-day capabilities.
“Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary of the United States Air Force and we have several missions, one of which is search and rescue of the continuous United States and Alaska and Hawaii,” said Jim Dodd, first lieutenant and public relations officer with CAP.
Other missions include aerial reconnaissance for natural disasters and ground search and rescue.
“They provide a huge service to the Air Force and the country,” said Capt. Eric Bresnahan, Minnesota Wing rescue coordinator.
CAP is funded by the Air Force to an extent, Bresnahan said. It undertakes missions for a fraction of the cost as to what missions would cost the Air Force.
“Today (Saturday) is a special occasion where our capabilities are being evaluated by the Air Force,” Dodd said.
If improvements were needed additional training would be put in place.
Four fictional scenarios from the Air Force developed on Saturday.
One involved a missing aircraft traveling from Aberdeen to Devils Lake. Because of the weather CAP planes were searching for the signal from an emergency locator transponder. Each airplane has an ELT that sends out a signal if there is an impact, Dodd said.
Another scenario in-volved a missing person with dementia who wandered away from his home. The person was found by cadets on the ground.
As missions were completed additional ones would surface.
Each state has a CAP. In the North Dakota unit there are senior members and 20 cadets, or members who are mostly under 18.
Cadets are not allowed to fly but are an important part of patrolling the ground, Dodd said.
“The cadet program is designed for tomorrow’s leaders in aviation,” he said.
The 20 cadet volunteers are provided an aerospace education, history of flight, military customs and courtesies and physical fitness.
“I think it’s important because you can learn integrity and leadership skills that will help you when you’re older,” said 14-year-old 1st Sgt. Teresea McCowan, a cadet from Grand Forks.
Dodd said the most difficult part of the evaluation were injects, or pieces of information the Air Fore provided in the middle of a mission.
For example, during the fictional scenario a person in Edgeley heard a low-flying aircraft around the same time the plane from Aberdeen should have been overhead, meaning it could have been the missing plane. So CAP volunteers had to talk to the person in Edgeley.
“There is no easy part,” Dodd said. “The work the Civil Air Patrol does is a joy but it is serious work; people’s lives depend on it.”
One thing CAP can’t change is the weather. Overcast conditions Saturday sidelined two of the fleet’s six planes; two others were in for maintenance.
Even with the poor weather the North Dakota CAP was able to locate all four targets that were put in place during the exercise. The final ratings will be issued in a month but preliminary ratings are good, Dodd said.
“The evaluation went satisfactory overall with an excellent in ground search and rescue,” he said.
More information on North Dakota CAP can be found at www.ndcap.us.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com